Reflecting on Open Access Day

Yesterday was the first Open Access Day — and what a day it was. What follows are my personal reflections.

I wasn’t able to be as involved with OA Day as I would have liked, due to a variety of personal matters, but I still think of it as (in some part) my baby. I was one of the leaders of 2007′s National Day of Action for Open Access and one of the leaders in refining that event into OA Day. We’ve come a long way in the year and a half separating those milestones, and the remarkable growth of OA Day reflects that progress.

The Day of Action was conceived as being student-led and student-oriented; by contrast, OA Day was by all, for all. OA Day was also international, rather than solely U.S.-focused, in scope. OA Day had more support from SPARC and PLoS, whose great efforts and prestige in the community vastly raised the profile of the event and contributed significantly to its growth. Notably, libraries were much more active in organizing activities to promote OA, which I see in part as a reflection of the increased resources available for (and acceptance of) library outreach, especially to students.

I’ve spent much of yesterday and today poring through the many blog posts marking OA Day. They were written by researchers, students, librarians, publishers, technologists, and advocates. They range from cursory to extensive; from scientific in tone to personal and emotionally moving; and they espouse the broad litany of arguments in favor of OA. In a word, the response has been simply inspirational. Thank you. To everyone who hosted an event for OA Day, or attended one, or wrote a blog post about it, or shared the word with a colleague or friend, and to the institutions that timed the announcement of a new initiative or product to coincide with OA Day: thank you.

A hearty kudos go to my colleagues at SPARC and PLoS whose sweat equity and financial commitment made this possible. (Thanks, then, also go to their funders and supporters. For the many blog posts which have remarked on the need for greater advocacy, few have discussed how to make this possible; as with all things, it takes resources. Considering the mighty juggernaut that is the OA movement, if people saw the shoestrings earmarked for advocacy, it’d make heads spin.) Special recognition also goes to the speakers and moderators on the Webcasts, as well as the filmmakers and interviewees of the Voices of Open Access series.

I offer this personal pledge: as long as I’m able to continue working within the OA movement, I promise to rededicate myself to leveraging and building upon the momentum of OA Day — to spread the word wider; to deepen commitments; to motivate us anew to speak up, to act up, and to live out our principles; to ensure the urgent message of OA echoes in the halls of power and in the hearts of scholars, today’s and tomorrow’s — and, if we are very lucky, to make Open Access Day 2009 even bigger and better than the first one.

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